A 12 Gauge Shotgun will “Kill” How Far?

    Eric’s series on “How Far Will (Insert Caliber/Weapon Here) Kill” has been quite the learning experience. Using a 3/4″ in plyboard as the standard for a potentially lethal wound, even the lowly 22 LR stretches its legs hundreds of yards. Now, Eric and the IV8888 team tackle what might the the hardest to quantify, the shotgun.

    The lowly scatter-gun is often thought of as only a close-range weapon. While true that one can argue that the “effective” range of the shotgun is low compared to a rifle, it does largely depend on the ammunition and sighting system used. For example, bird shot is long known to not typically cause lethal wounds to bipedal mammals at short range. Simply put, its too small and decelerates too fast to penetrate enough (unless one gets lucky on eyes, etc.) at longer range.

    On the flip side, buckshot and slugs are known to be particularly brutal. Typical 00 buckshot is the rough equivalent of 9 – 12x 9mm bullets hitting a target at once and a slug is a a solid lead meat pulverizer. But, the question remains, how far can those “lethal” loads hit?

    The results can be surprising. “Non-Lethal” bird shot is devastating in a compressed form, either in a cut-shell or within short range. Then there are non-surprising results where the buckshot maintains lethality (though an open pattern) at 50 yards.

    The Slug? It can reach out and touch something albeit with some serious drop.

    Nathan S

    One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

    The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.